New date set after Fairyhouse wash-out
An overnight deluge that left Fairyhouse waterlogged forced the cancellation of yesterday’s Winter Festival highlight that has been promptly refixed for Wednesday.
Free admission has been announced by Horse Racing Ireland for the refixed meeting featuring three Grade 1 contests that replaces the original card pencilled in for the Meath venue.
While that session has been postponed until Thursday week, the immediate concern for manager Caroline Gray is completion of the Winter Festival which started on Saturday despite the course being enveloped in fog.
“A few showers were forecast for Saturday night, but nothing like the amount of rain we got. Tomorrow should be dry and, although we may have showers on Tuesday, I would be optimistic that racing will go ahead on Wednesday,” she explained.
An estimated 20 millimetres of rain fell on the track in advance of yesterday’s unscheduled inspection around 9am that left officials with no option but to call off a programme dogged by bad weather in recent seasons.
Fresh declarations are required tomorrow morning for the new date and it will be interesting to see how many of the leading performers will remain in contention for the triple Grade I rewards on offer.
Had the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle proceeded as planned yesterday it would have coincided with the funeral Mass of popular owner John O’Meara whose Aitmatov was due to attempt a repeat of his 2007 success.
A loyal patron and indeed close confidante of trainer Noel Meade, the Thurles native passed away peacefully on Friday at his Pitchfordstown Stud, Kilcock after a long illness and will be greatly missed by family and friends alike.
In addition to recent Lismullen Hurdle winner Aitmatov, this successful businessman enjoyed great days in partnership with Meade and Paul Carberry courtesy of his top-class chaser Johnny Setaside.
Meanwhile, the former Aidan O'Brien-trained Washington Irving outclassed his rivals as he gave Denis O'Regan an armchair ride on his jumping debut in the carlisle-races.co.uk Novices' Hurdle at Carlisle yesterday.